Chawanda backs War­riors as ‘golden gen­er­a­tion’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Pet­ros Kausiyo

AS the War­riors brace for their third ap­pear­ance at the African Cup of Na­tions, one of their leg­endary cap­tains Ephraim Chawanda has backed Cal­listo Pa­suwa and his men to im­press in Gabon and chal­lenged ZIFA and the coun­try’s foot­ball fam­ily to help the “golden gen­er­a­tion live their dream’’.

The Rock of Gi­bral­tar, as Chawanda was af­fec­tion­ately known, was the leader of the Dream Team un­der the late Rein­hard Fabisch.

This week Chawanda spoke ex­clu­sively to Her­ald Sport, shar­ing his sen­ti­ments on the War­riors and the state of the do­mes­tic game.

Chawanda said while his Dream Team gave Zim­bab­weans “some­thing to dream about, this golden class is liv­ing the dream.”

“Un­der Fabisch we per­formed at a time when the morale of Zim­bab­weans was very low due to the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion and what the Dream Team brought at that time was re­lief and hap­pi­ness. We played with our souls to please the souls of Zim­bab­weans,” he said.

“I would like to con­grat­u­late Cal­listo Pa­suwa and his play­ers for qual­i­fy­ing for AF­CON and just like our time they have per­formed when the morale of Zim­bab­weans is low due to a tough eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion but they have man­aged to ac­tu­ally live the dream.

“While con­grat­u­lat­ing the team I would also like to make the ad­min­is­tra­tion aware of the dam­age that was done dur­ing the Dream Team era where a lot of pres­sure was put on the coach and there was a lot of in­ter­fer­ence in the tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions of the coach.

“We should re­mem­ber that the Dream Team was on the verge of qual­i­fy­ing and were one game away from qual­i­fy­ing for the World Cup fi­nals in 1994.

“But be­cause of that in­ter­fer­ence things went askew and we ended up los­ing both the qual­i­fi­ca­tions for AF­CON and the World Cup and if we are not care­ful we could de­stroy what the squad has built.

“We have a very strong squad that has a huge po­ten­tial to go and im­press in Gabon and I be­lieve that if we all bring our pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions to the coach and his boys, they will make us proud.

“But I am sad­dened that there is too much neg­a­tiv­ity around our War­riors so much that a friend of mine even laughed at me in Botswana and said you Zim­bab­weans a funny peo­ple, in­stead of cel­e­brat­ing that you are the only South­ern African coun­try at AF­CON you are fight­ing each other.”

Chawanda warned the ZIFA lead­er­ship to be wary of some peo­ple he al­leged could try to steal the lime­light that has been brought by the suc­cess of both the Mighty War­riors and the War­riors.

“You can see that there are some peo­ple who now want to steal the lime­light for the na­tional teams’ suc­cesses but my ques­tion is why fix­ing some­thing that is not bro­ken,” said Chawanda.

“Our ef­forts right now should be directed at giv­ing the coach enough sup­port in his prepa­ra­tions…we should con­cen­trate on get­ting enough re­sources to sup­port the play­ers even be­fore they go to Gabon.

“There have been in­ci­dences of play­ers threat­en­ing to boy­cott games be­cause of lack of con­tracts or agree­ments on bonuses and ap­pear­ance fees. These are things I feel should be done yes­ter­day. It is not only a ZIFA prob­lem but a na­tional prob­lem and it de­serves the at­ten­tion of ev­ery­body who loves foot­ball.”

Chawanda, who is based in Botswana, said he was also not sat­is­fied with the slow pace by ZIFA in drum­ming up sup­port for the War­riors ahead of the Gabon tour­ney.

“I think there is a lack of the drive to cre­ate that huge hype about our qual­i­fi­ca­tion. We have three months essen­tially to pre­pare the War­riors and there is some back­ground ac­tiv­ity hap­pen­ing but we must be aware that the coach and his play­ers need our sup­port and our mo­ti­va­tion now and not in De­cem­ber.

“In De­cem­ber the big guys who mat­ter in in­dus­try would have gone for hol­i­days or fin­ished with their bud­gets so we have to do things right now,’’ said Chawanda.

Now 51 years old, Chawanda is work­ing a pro­gramme to try and help re­vive the ju­nior game in Zim­babwe hav­ing spent his coach­ing ca­reer in the lower leagues of South African foot­ball as well as in Botswana be­fore stop­ping early this year.

“I have stopped coach­ing. One of the rea­sons is that that all former foot­ballers want to be­come coaches.

“It is time I move into the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the game or other re­lated in­dus­tries of foot­ball which deal with wel­fare and well-be­ing of foot­ballers and just any other re­lated mat­ters that can bring back a good spin into Zim­bab­wean foot­ball.

“I am work­ing on com­ing back to do these pro­grammes from Zim­babwe.

“It is an un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion that we put all con­cen­tra­tion on PSL teams and se­nior na­tional teams and we are hop­ing that all work at grass­roots should be done by acad­e­mies of which some have ques­tion­able in­ten­tions and some are mis­man­aged through lack of ex­per­tise’’.

Chawanda im­plored on ZIFA to re­claim con­trol of the ju­nior de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme.

“We as foot­ball lov­ing peo­ple of Zim­babwe should find a way of re­viv­ing ju­nior foot­ball with the struc­tures com­ing un­der ZIFA as it was done be­fore.

“I think we the foot­ball peo­ple should stand up and com­ple­ment ZIFA in their work and not ex­pect the as­so­ci­a­tion to do it alone. Team­work is not just on the pitch but it should in­volve ev­ery­body’’.

Chawanda at­trib­uted the lack of qual­ity strik­ers in the do­mes­tic Pre­mier­ship to the ab­sence of proper de­vel­op­ment struc­tures in the game.

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